EDUCATORS OF THE YEAR BREAKFAST
Constance White, Ben Ibarra and Sheree Johnson named district’s top principals
BY MIKE KEENEY
Aldine ISD celebrated its top teachers and principals at the Educator of the Year Breakfast, held Friday, March 10 at the Hilton Houston North Hotel.
Aldine ISD Trustees, district administrators, campus administrators, teachers and business partners donned their best Mardi Gras ware to let the good times role as the districts celebrated Aldine’s top educators.
Chiquita Sanders of Stovall Middle School was named the district’s Secondary Teacher of the Year, while Emily Frye of Magrill Primary was named the district’s Elementary Teacher of the Year. Sanders is a math teacher, while Frye is an ESL teacher.
The four Teacher of the Year finalists were Miriam Benitez of Hinojosa Primary School, Audette Williams of Francis Elementary School, Rodelio Abuan of Avalos PTECH High School and Loverous Whittaker of Nimitz High School.
For the fourth consecutive year, the district also announced its Rookie Educators of the Year. Kwand Lang of Hill Elementary School was the Rookie Elementary Teacher of the Year, while Michael Maly of Avalos P-TECH High School was named the Rookie Secondary Teacher of the Year.
In addition, Aldine ISD’s Principals of the Year and Rookie Principal of the Year were also announced at the EOY Breakfast.
Constance White of Hill Elementary was named the Elementary Principal of the Year, while Ben Ibarra of Blanson CTE High School was named the Secondary Principal of the Year and Sherree Johnson of Griggs Primary School was named the Rookie Principal of the Year.
The two overall winners, the four finalists, all Campus Teachers of the Year and the Principals of the Year received monetary awards from the Aldine Education Foundation. Frye, Sanders, the four TOY finalists, Lang, Maly, White, Ibarra and Johnson each received rings from Josten’s, while Whataburger provided gift baskets for the Teacher of the Year finalists.
Frye, Sanders, White, and Ibarra each received two round trip airfare tickets from United Airlines, which was one of the Platinum Sponsors of the breakfast.
Other gifts included a swag bag from McDonald’s, a reusable tumbler for all campus Teachers of the Year from Whataburger, while the six finalists received a gift basket from Whataburger.
AT&T and the Aldine Education Foundation provided each Teacher of the Year with a Polo Shirt and Camdon Graphics provided all Teachers of the Year with printed graphics.
AEF Director Linda Flores Olson thanked the sponsors who underwrote and provided gifts for the breakfast. United Airlines and Amplify served as Platinum Sponsors, while PBK, East Aldine Management District and UT Physicians served as Gold Sponsors. Silver Sponsors were McDonald’s, Alta Resources, MD Anderson and K12 Insights. Campus Sponsors were Tarkett, MWA Architects, the Aldine American Federation of Teachers (ATF Local 6345), ABC Mouse/Age Learning, Inc., Barrett Insurance, Avance Houston Inc., Imagine Learning and Teach for America.
Chief Academic Officer Dr. Katie Roede announced the Rookie Principal of the Year, the Secondary Principal of the Year and the Secondary Teacher of the Year.
Johnson is in her first year as a principal with Aldine ISD and is the principal at Griggs Elementary School.
She brings 15 years of experience to her new position.
“Our teachers are passionate about ensuring our young learners have an exceptional daily educational experience,” she said. “I love seeing the smiling faces of our children every day, as well as the excitement of learning when I visit classrooms.”
White has devoted all of her 27 years in education to Aldine ISD and currently serves as the principal of Hill Elementary School.
She is proud of the impact she has on her students on a daily basis.
“As a campus leader, I love interacting with students and being involved in their lives as they experience learning,” she said. “I also love being able to recruit, mentor, inspire and lead talented teams of educators each year as we navigate to overcome challenges to achieve our goals.”
Ibarra, a product of Aldine ISD, has also spent his entire educational career in Aldine ISD. He believes it is his calling to give the district all he has on a daily basis.
“I have spent my entire career in Aldine,” Ibarra said. “Aldine has given me its best, and I am driven every day to provide Aldine my best. What I love most about being a campus leader is working with professionals to put systems in place so that students graduate with choices and opportunities.”
Chief Human Resources Officer Dr. Javier Villarreal introduced Lang as the Elementary Rookie Teacher of the Year and Maly as the Secondary Rookie Teacher of the Year.
Land said it is important for him to challenge his students on a daily basis.
“I want students to embrace the learning process as a continuum, not a means to an end,” he said. “I also want my students to know they have infinite value and can be whomever they desire. And to future teachers, I advise them to stay connected with school and district colleagues and leaders because they are there to help them succeed.”
Maly said he loves helping his students think outside of the box and explore new possibilities.
“I love creating a safe space for students to explore, develop and embrace their true selves,” he said. “My dream is for them to be confident and comfortable with who they are. My ‘why’ is to breathe life into young people who yearn to discover their identities through revelations of new knowledge.”Dr. Villarreal announced Fyre as the district’s Elementary Teacher of the Year and Sanders as the district’s Secondary Teacher of the Year.
Frye said she enjoys providing her students with a hands-on approach to learning.
“A lesson that demonstrates my style and philosophy of teaching would be during Knowledge Domain 4: Plants. I start the lesson by watching of clip of Elmo taking about deciduous and evergreen trees. Then, we go into the lesson outlined in the curriculum,” she said. “After the lesson, we go on a walk and identify trees as being deciduous or evergreen. Before we go in, I have students pick up a pine needle, a pine cone, and a life of their choice.:
Sanders enjoys incorporating ‘escape rooms’ to assist in her student’s learning experience.
“Two words: escape rooms. One of my favorite escape rooms that (colleague) Ms. Ehrig and I collaborated to create was an escape room in the library. The escape room was at the end of our geometry unit,” she said. “We created six open-ended questions about topics in the unit. We hid clues around the library. Students had to use many skills and subject areas, not just math. They deciphered clues. They had to work as a class to beat another classroom. The pure joy and learning that took place were priceless and could never be measured by any test.”
Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney provided closing remarks.
“On behalf of our Board Members, I want to congratulate all of our campus Teachers of the Year, our six finalists, our Principals of the Year and our Rookie Teachers of the Year,” she said. “It’s great to gather as a group to celebrate the wonderful and important work all of you do every day in your respective classrooms. I want you to know how much we value each and every one of you and we can’t thank you enough for your dedication and devotion to our students.”
She also thanked the sponsors who made the Educator of the Year Breakfast possible.
“And to our sponsors, thank you for supporting the teachers and students of Aldine ISD through the Aldine Education Foundation,” Dr. Goffney said. “There is nothing like having business leaders and community members who believe in education and support it financially and with their time.”
Chief of Staff Sheleah Reed and Student Ambassador Aaron Cebrereo, a junior at Avalos P-TECH High School, served as masters of ceremony for the event.
The Teacher of the Year Committee consisted of Dr. Keena Bradley, Dr. Charlotte J. Davis, Morgan Delaney, Mattye Johnson, Cindy Nguyen, Sheena Nichols, Linda Nigro and Cristina Ramirez.
The Principal of the Year Committee consisted of Ruby Allen, Dr. Dana Arreola, Scott Corrick, Perla Davila, Sandra Doria, Shana Keller, Aristide Sidibe, Marcie Strahan, Jose Trevino-Garcia, Christi VanWassenhove and Dr. Robin Williams.
The Rookie Principal of the Year Committee consisted of Altagracia Delgado, Dika Melendez, Refugio Rodriguez, Dr. Katie Roede, Christopher Walkers and Dr. Robin Williams.
Prior to the start of the breakfast, attendees were entertained by the Aldine High School Jazz Ensemble.